I said it after the Miami series. I was concerned about the Cubs pitching, I think rightfully so. The sweep of the Cincinnati Reds was meaningless if they went to New York and split, or lost the series. Well, they got swept, and looked really bad doing so. I’m not as worried about the offense as I am the pitching.
If not for Jon Lester, the Cubs would be in an even worse spot. Jake Arrieta has been off the last 5-6 games. Maybe since he struck out 12 in 5 innings. After a rough first inning on Saturday night, he seemed to find himself. He still gave up 4 runs, 2 on a bloop “double”. On Sunday Lester got tattooed for 8 runs in just and inning and a third. There is little doubt the pitching staff is feeling more pressure. The bullpen has been spotty and the hitting is not what it was in May.
It could be a blessing in disguise 2 ways. 1. It’s better to go through this kind of slump earlier than later on. The team needs to fight through adversity. The biggest problem is probable Dexter Fowler being out. He helped hide the fact that high-priced free agent singing, Jason Heyward has not been as productive at the plate as he has been in the past. More injuries in the outfield have been a concern as well.
The second thing is it sends a clear signal to management that this team is not as solid as their record says it is. The Cubs beat up on a lot of bad teams (as well they should) en route to having the best record in MLB. They beat some good ones too. Theo and Jed can better evaluate what they need to do to shore things up though.
What they need? They need to get healthy. In addition to that, probably 2 more arms in the bullpen. A veteran hitter in the middle of the batting order. Someone who doesn’t strike out at the crazy rate the rest of the team seems to do. Protection for Rizzo, and someone who can get clutch RBIs. Baez or Contreras might get there someday. Schwarber certainly is on track, but he’s out for the season. I wouldn’t go crazy and give up the “farm” for it, but if they want to get to the World Series, they will need to add some pieces.